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North Devon’s Most Famous Animals

16th August 2019

Categories: Visitor News

 North Devon’s Most Famous Animals

Credit: Marion Callaghan

An area rich in outstanding natural beauty and undisturbed, diverse landscape, it’ll come as no surprise that North Devon is a haven for many different animals.

Some are domestic, some are totally wild, but all play a part in making our area such a unique location. Here are a few of the most famous.

The Clovelly Donkeys

If you’ve heard of Clovelly Village, the chances are you’ve heard of the Clovelly donkeys. Their history is a rich one; in days gone by, these little beasts had an absolutely pivotal role in the entire day-to-day function of this village, and were the key to its success as a fishing point. They helped to transport goods, including materials, food, drink and post, in and out of the village.

Don’t worry - these days, the donkeys enjoy a much more relaxed lifestyle. Diligently cared for by Clovelly residents Sue and Bart Kelly, you’ll find them relaxing in their stable, their local meadow, or even meandering along the cobbles, where you can pose with them for a unique family photo.

The Clovelly Cats

Credit: Mark Foard

Clovelly isn’t just famous for its donkeys anymore - in recent years, the village cats have made quite a name for themselves amongst locals and tourists alike.

There are a fair few living in the village, so on your next trip to the cobbles, be sure to take a look and see how many you can spot.

The Exmoor Ponies

Credit: Linda Thompson

Exmoor is known for a fair few things. Bridging the distance between North Devon and Somerset, it encompasses miles upon miles of land, including picturesque villages and a natural landscape that has inspired everything from the Romantic Poets to R.D Blackmore’s Loona Doone.

It’s a haven for wildlife, with a vast array of different kinds of species calling it home. Most famously, it plays host to the Exmoor Pony - one of the most memorable highlights for most visitors of the park. 

One of a number of British ponies, they’re a common sight as around 20 different herds live on Exmoor. Though they all belong to someone, they roam freely along the moor - though it’s important to ensure that gates are closed when visiting them. For their own safety, it’s also necessary not to try to touch or feed the ponies, but you can get close to them at the Exmoor Pony Centre across the border in Dulverton, Somerset.

The Lynton Goats

Credit: Rupert Kirby

The infamous goats of Lynton have roamed Exmoor for hundreds of years - they were mentioned as ‘Goats in the Valley’ in the Domesday Book, and even referenced in Lorna Doone in 1869. 

Though their presence has previously sparked controversy throughout the community, they’re a sight to behold - particularly around their most popular haunt, the Valley of the Rocks, known in its own right as one of the most spectacular sights in North Devon.

The Puffins of Lundy Island

Lundy Island is a haven for wildlife - and birdwatchers. With recorded sightings of hundreds of different birds on the island, and up to 35 different species nesting on Lundy during breeding season, there’s no shortage of things to see. 

It also has the largest single island seabird colony in the south of England and in particular, it’s famous for its puffin population - a fitting factor, considering the Norse translation of its name literally means ‘Puffin Island’.

While perhaps most famous for its puffins, it’s worth noting that Lundy also provides ample opportunity for spotting marine life, as well as a kind of tranquility you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

Where Else to Spot Wildlife

Credit: Steve RE Cdo

Alongside Exmoor and Lundy, there are a couple of other must-visit locations here in North Devon, if spotting animals and other wildlife is the number one item on your agenda.

Braunton Burrows is at the heart of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as being a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve. Comprising of 1000 hectares and one of the largest sand dune systems in the British Isles, it plays home to an incredible array of wildlife, including nesting birds and 5 of the 6 reptile species found in the UK.

Northam Burrows is another great place to visit, and as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, is the host of a diverse range of natural habitats, teaming with unique species and examples of wildlife.

One of the best ways to spot marine life in North Devon is to take the Ilfracombe Sea Safari. Offering a range of different boat trips and other experiences, an expert team will guide you through the local wildlife and will use their keen eyes to spot seals, dolphins, porpoises and more.

Whether you’re looking to meet North Devon’s domesticated animals, or free-roaming wildlife, the most important thing is to ensure that you’re treating them - and their natural habitats - with respect. We’re really lucky with the diversity of our natural environment, so let’s keep it thriving for the future.

If you’ve spotted any of these so far - or you feel we’ve missed out on a particular species or creature who should’ve made this list, let us know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We love hearing from you and seeing your pictures, so be sure to tag us!

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